Ask Boldly; Live Justly (Luke 18:1-8)

Children’s Sabbath/Laity Sunday

The work of justice is getting educated about the issues.  The work of justice is marching in the streets.  The work of justice is writing letters to those in power.  The work of justice is prayers of persistence.  The work of justice is showing up again and again and again.

The work of justice is not easy, and those who work persistently for justice can suffer from burn-out.  Burn-out is the emotional, mental, spiritual and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged stress.  We don’t know what kept the widow in today’s story from burn-out.  We don’t know why she was able to persist in boldly going to the unjust judge when so many others would have given up.

Like many others, she might have asked in despair, what is the right number of phone calls, of letters written, of steps marched?  Those who do the work of justice never know what the tipping point might be.  It could be today’s visit, it could be tomorrow’s phone call, it could be next week’s letter that move the needle.  But unlike those who experience burn-out, the widow approached each encounter as if this was the one that would have the hoped-for effect.  She was energized rather than discouraged by the knowledge that each encounter could be the last one, or just the next one.

At the same time, the widow balanced her sense of purpose with a realistic understanding of the scope of her influence and ability.  She did not try to talk the unjust judge into fixing every corrupt act against every person.  Instead she worked doggedly for the one cause she was most passionate about.

We don’t learn much about the widow except that she was persistent, but her continued work indicates that perhaps she employed some other tools to avoid burn-out as well.  When the list of work to be done gets long and daunting, try taking a look at this list as well.  It may seem counter-intuitive to do more, but attending to these may actually make the work of justice more sustainable into the future.

The work of justice is gathering community.  The work of justice is taking time to be creative.  The work of justice is experiencing intentional sabbath.  The work of justice is letting go of perfectionism.  The work of justice is feeling optimism balanced with realism.  The work of justice is focusing on the task at hand.  The work of justice is seeing the long view.  The work of justice is praying with gratitude.



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Planting Life (Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7)

                      Access Sunday and Disablities Awareness Week

The Reverend Sarah Lund has been called as the United Church of Christ’s first Minister for Disabilities and Mental Health Justice.  What inspires her about this role?  The Reverend Lund says, “The UCC’s commitment to disabilities and mental health justice drew me to this position.  I am excited to support the UCC as we seek to live out our commitments to be A2A (Accessible to All) and WISE (Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Engaged) for mental health.  I am inspired to work with lay leaders and clergy, supporting their efforts to reflect the extravagant love of God in Jesus Christ.

I enjoy the inspiring people I am honored to get to know doing this work.  One of the main things I do is build relationships with pastors, lay leaders, Conference Ministers, National Staff colleagues, seminarians, and members of the wider community as we share stories about how our lives are shaped by disabilities and mental health justice.

The tempatation in the church is to think of disabilities and mental health justice as a side issue.  It is challenging and critical to think of disabilities and mental health justice as part of every other justice issue.  There is great opportunity in the places of intersectionality and that is where we are excited to explore moving forward.  For example, as we continue to engage the whole church in our Sacred Conversations to End Racism, we can include in that conversation how disabilities and mental health justice intersect with racism.

Inviting churches to seek justice with people who live with disabilites and mental health diagnoses is important because it is what Jesus calls us to do.  Jesus’ teaching call us to love our neighbors and loving our neighbors means seeking justice for people who live with disabilities and mental health challenges.

The UCC has a strong history of supporting disabilities and mental health justice thorugh the work of its ministers and congregations.  We celebrate the important role of UCC minister Reverend Harold Wilke, a person with a disability who was a disability rights pioneer and activist involved in the pasage of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).  We also celebrate the wider church’s commitment at the 25th General Synod in the adoption of the resolution ‘Called to Wholeness in Christ:  Becoming a Church Accessible to All.’  We celebrate that at the 31st General Synod the wider church adopted the resolution to be WISE (Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Engaged) for mental health.  The challenge that these celebrations offer is the opportunity and responsibility of the ongoing work.”

To find out more about how you can be engaged in this vital ministry, contact

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Beef and Noodle Dinner, Friday, October 18

Save the date of Friday, October 18, for the annual Beef and Noodle Dinner which takes place at St. John’s UCC from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The dinner includes homegrown beef, noodles, mashed potatoes, green beans, apple sauce, roll, assorted pies and beverages.

Cost:  Adults:  $8.00; 6th grade–college:  $5.00; Elementary:  $4.00; Pre-K:  Free.

St. John’s UCC is located at the corner of College Avenue and Jackson Streets in Bluffton (near Bluffton High School).  All are welcome to attend.

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And the Rains Kept Comin’ Down!

We are all aware of the flooding and other hardships caused by Hurricane Dorian and other natural disasters throughout our country.  That is one of the reasons the Board of Christian Education has chosen our mission project for the next two months as filling disaster response kits.  Many of the cleaning materials for helping clean up the mess of a flood or other devastation are included in this bucket.  Please take some items from the list posted on the easel at the back of the church and bring them in by November 2.  If you feel so inclined, you may take a complete list (also posted) and fill the whole bucket.  The approximate cost would be $47 to fill the whole bucket.  The buckets will be driven to Tiffin to the Northwest Ohio Association office of the United Church of Christ for distribution to places as needed.  Any little bit that you can contribute is appreciated.

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Fall Hours Begin September 8, 2019

Beginning September 8, 2019, and continuing until the first Sunday in June, 2020, Faith Formation classes will meet at 9:30 a.m., and worship starts at 10:30 a.m.

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This Week at St. John’s UCC

Centering Words for October  20: Taste and see that the Lord is good.  God’s blessings are sweeter than honey.

Sunday, October 20–Worship service, 10:30 a.m.; Pastor Carol’s message is “Write to the Heart”, and is based on Jeremiah 31:27-34.  There will be a fellowship hour following worship.

The Board of Christian Education meets following the worship service.

Tuesday, October 22–Ladies meet at LuLu’s, 9 a.m.; TOPS, 6 p.m.

Wednesday, October 23–Men meet at Arby’s, 8:30 a.m.; choir practice, 7 p.m.

Friday, October 25–Walk Day at Bluffton Elementary School

Saturday, October 26–Funeral for Tom Niswander, 11 a.m.


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Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen

If you would like to volunteer for helping serve at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in Lima on Tuesday,  September 24, 2019,  please sign up on the bulletin board in the sanctuary.  Helpers are always welcome.

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Facebook Page

You are missing out on a super way to advertise our church if you are not sharing with many of your other Facebook friends St. John’s Facebook page.  There are many interesting articles posted every day.  “Friend” all of your friends and ask them to “Like” the St. John’s page–let’s let people know we are here, alive, and moving forward!

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St Johns Snow

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This website can now be found at!

In an effort to make this site easier for you to access, it can now be found at!  You can still find this page using the old web address, but now it will be easier to tell family and friends where they can find up-to-date news about St. John’s UCC in Bluffton, Ohio.

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